Karizma N. Washington
I can remember on that Saturday how eager I was to be able to go to my aunt’s house and relax.
A peace of mind outside of my routine classes, work, and the constraints of being a college student. Spring break wasn’t anything for me to be super happy about because I had no specific plans, but I was glad to be able to get off-campus.
As I sat in my dorm room, waiting for my aunt to arrive and sign her in, I felt a sudden feeling of hesitation creeping up on me. The type of feeling that made me realize that this wasn’t going to be a short visit home.
In the week of March 11, 2020, what was about to happen became clear. Multiple institutions had announced that classes were going to be taught remotely online and students living on campus had to collect their possessions and turn in their room keys as soon as possible. I knew ESU was next. No doubt about it. When I had received the email confirming the news, I was no more surprised than the next college was.
Now, that feeling of hesitation quickly turned into a wave of sadness that I can’t seem to shake.
Every day when I wake up, I can’t help, but think about how social distancing is really affecting me. The reality of the situation is, no one was ever there for me before or after the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. When speaking about social issues, I must tell the truth as honest as I know how to.
I feel alone.
For a college student with a dysfunctional family, support is rare. It’s 10 times worse when you have mental health issues and you lack friendships in your life to help fill those holes. In all honesty, this has been one of the loneliest years for me in a long time. I do not mind being alone, it is the issue of feeling alone when I touch my phone or go online. Even with familiar faces on my screen, I have such a hard time connecting to any of them.
My anxiety is through the roof almost all time, as new reports of COVID-19 are found each day with conspiracy theories of what life will look like after all of this change.
For a moment, I thought that social media would save me from the shadow of loneliness, but it only entraps me inside of it even more. I’ve tried everything from online support groups, chatting apps, forums, you name it. Nothing has stuck or been consistent.
I recently deleted my Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook from my phone on the account of seeing posts and memes everyday about COVID-19. People are talking about learning new languages and organizing their whole house, meanwhile, I am struggling to get out of bed or go eat. In addition, I just wanted a break from seeing people talk about social distancing as if it were a collective act in which everyone could partake in. Obviously, that is not the case.
For me, making and keeping friends was always a difficult feat to accomplish. The close friends that I did have, moved on and started creating new experiences with new people. It has never occurred to me until this year, how much that has affected me. Not having friends or a secure family has taken its toll on me as the weeks progress by with this shutdown.
I currently live with my aunt and she’s a Registered Nurse, so she has not been home much. When she is, we do not interact often, but I appreciate that because it is the gift of peace. It is like I am on my own island. However, days seem to mesh into one because I have not gone outside anywhere or anywhere outside the floors of her house and my bed. There is only yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I stay up until 5 a.m. almost every night because I know there is not much to do besides study or sleep. Sometimes I read, I draw or write, but this becomes a cycle of only being inside of my own head. In some ways, I hate it. I wish I had more do to. I wish I had more people to speak to or relate to.
I know this is unhealthy but in the wake of being quarantined this is the ugly side of social distancing. It is now the third week of April and there are less than three weeks until the spring semester is over. I was always a productive student and I’ve had very few problems with grades and classes. However, with the shift of classes being held online, assignments sometimes blend into each other and I can’t keep my attention on one thing longer than 15 minutes.
It seems as if my life is consumed by my studies and that only complicates my thought process even more. Unfortunately, I am beginning to doubt that I will be able to physically attend ESU in the fall. There is no telling in how long this will last. There is no telling if life will really go back to normal.
My hope in writing this is to shed some real light on how it feels for some of us to be alone. Sharing my personal experience on what is happening is such a therapeutic exercise for me to partake in. More importantly, I hope other people will be able to resonate with what I have shared and be able to speak out knowing they are not alone. Social distancing is important in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but it’s not always and easy thing to accomplish.
Not everyone has great support groups and not everyone feels comfortable reaching out. As we all go through this time of change and awareness, we need to pay more attention to our actions and less on what we may claim to do for others.
Only progression, growth, and understanding can ultimately open the doors for everyone to truly be able to participate in a healthy social life while we are taking these precautionary measures. So please stay safe, continue to work on your inner self, and know that you are not alone.